Over the past week increased talk about the future of 19-year-old AMA racing sensation Ken Roczen has reached the point where it is almost accepted that the former MX2 World Champion and West Coast 250SX number one will be leaving KTM and re-joining the brand with whom he burst onto the international stage.
Roczen’s signature is the most eagerly sought after thanks to a momentous season in the premier 450SX class so far in which he has taken two victories on the Red Bull 450SX-F.
Incessant rumours, even in the MXGP paddock, have the German set to turn out on full factory Suzuki material for the RCH squad in 2015. If true then Roczen should be able to protect his long-term link with Red Bull – with whom he has been associated and supported since junior level – and also return to the company where he emerged so memorably in 2009 as a 15 year old at the Grand Prix of Portugal.
We’re still waiting for an official press release to confirm either a renegotiation with KTM or that Roczen will in fact be RM-Z450 bound for 2015 but it does seem a little hard to imagine that he wants to leave the confines of KTM. And that the decision is purely financial.
KTM are known as a brand that believe wholeheartedly in their racing programme and have shifted whole structures and invested heavily in various areas in the chase of excellence.
With Husqvarna rapidly gathering pace in terms of their racing set-up Roczen has maybe other options if he did not want to stay on a similar level to Dungey and the link with the Austrians – in place since Pit Beirer [KTM Motorsports Director] enticed his countryman into orange in 2011 – also provides other benefits such as unwavering support if the rider wanted to compete in Europe at any stage.
It is not a big secret that Roczen was not overly happy with his 250SX/MX race-bike in 2013 but a resurgent performance at the Motocross of Nations last September and so-far excellent speed on the 450SX-F means that he currently has a competitive and capable package.
Roczen’s link with famed trainer Aldon Baker for 2014 has undoubtedly carried a big impact to his fitness and focus and his admiration for RCH co-proprietor Ricky Carmichael could also be a factor in the alleged switch.